Massimiliano Gritti (MG) (BSc Business Studies, 2016) and business partner Elliot Aeschlimann (EA) are men with an eye for style and craftsmanship. Their site, Bombinate.com, offers a curated collection of Europe’s finest niche brands, all in one place. We caught up with these dapper go-getters.
Tell me about your time at Cass!
MG) I was at Cass from 2013 to 2016 studying Business Studies. I spent the three years split between Northampton Square and Bunhill Row. It was a really great experience. I met a lot of very interesting and cool people and made a strong and close friendship group – even after we have graduated we are still close. My course was really useful, especially my dissertation, which took about three months to complete. It was really interesting to do a big project, a very good experience.
EA) And it was your dissertation that led to Bombinate!
What did you get up to next?
MG) We actually had the idea for Bombinate in Summer 2015 and started working on it in April 2016, before we both graduated. We were calling brands, testing the market, doing research, and generally getting some validation for the project. Because we started when we were students it was not too much of a challenge to find the time, and it gave us the momentum to do it full time after we graduated.
EA) It was good to have three months as a student when we decided to go for it, so we didn’t have to worry so much about money – we had a buffer.
So what exactly is Bombinate?
MG) It’s the first online destination for men where they can shop and discover high quality craftsmanship brands. It’s e-commerce but our criteria for inclusion are based solely on quality not brand recognition or the strength of the designer’s name.
EA) It’s a marketplace, so we don’t own the products.
MG) We showcase the items and sell them, so it’s a shop window. We also provide the brands with the marketing, PR and social media marketing skills to reach beyond their own borders and niches.
And Bombinate is a Launch Lab resident?
MG) It is! It’s pretty cool to be here, especially as we have got the space for free! Until recently I wasn’t aware of the lab itself or that what they could offer was so serious. I knew of the Hangout, because I’d visited in my first year – but there was not that much to see so it went to the back of my mind. Then I attended an event where I met Chris, another resident, and he told me about all the support you get at the Launch Lab, and that I should apply because there was space available. So we applied, we were accepted and since then we’ve been active residents.
EA) Every day we’re first in, last out!
MG) We moved in when the Launch Lab was at the Unruly campus in November 2016 and then the Lab moved here in January. It’s a lovely office – at Unruly it was a back room with no fresh air or view.
Do you have any advice for people looking to follow in your footsteps?
MG) It’s all about doing your research. You need to ask important questions of the right people, and take notice of industry experts because they have been there, they know what is happening. But also remember that because they have been in it for a while, they can overlook things, so you need to gauge what’s happening for yourself. Above all you need to go for it! If you see an opportunity – a gap – it can be done efficiently, so get going.
EA) You learn a lot along the way. Even if your idea isn’t the most optimal at first you will learn and improve and you will get there.
MG) It’s also an advantage to be serious and professional in the way you go about things. That also helps you to get those hard skills that are transferable to anything you do in the future.
What’s been the biggest challenge?
EA) Definitely the biggest challenge has been convincing the brands – for us that’s been make or break. At the start it’s just about sending out emails with basic documents, waiting for feedback, which was mixed at the start, and keeping up your motivation to continue.
MG) Then we started with phone calls and presentations. Brands can be very defensive in terms of their image, and they get lots of marketplace calls – but none of the other marketplace providers respect their image and their manufacturing process like we do.
EA) There’s a little bit of bluffing involved. If you’re talking to ten brands and they all tell you they will join if you have others signed up, you have to bluff a little. But at the same time, we respect their brands and their skill and we just want to tell their story. I think that comes through.
MG) Fake it ‘til you make it! You need to show that you are professional so that they can be secure in choosing to partner with us. We worked hard to create really professional documents that showcase what we are about in terms of content and design, and that’s what made them go with us.
EA) For us it’s all about credibility – and you don’t have anything at the beginning! It was just us…
MG) …with our documents, landing page and phone calls.
Finally, it’s the quick-fire question round!
Favourite place in London: EA) The area from Troy Bar in Shoreditch to Hackney MG) Borough Market to the London Eye, along the Southbank
Favourite holiday destination: EA) Tarifa for kitesurfing MG) Tarifa too, but also the Swiss Alps, where we come from. When you go back it’s so refreshing!
Must-check every day website: EA) Hubspotmarketing MG) The FT, reddit and facebook
Dream travel destination: EA) Socotra MG) Bhutan is on my bucket list
Cheese or chocolate: EA) I can’t decide!! Ok, I’ll say chocolate because we live together so I could have some of his cheese MG) Cheese 100%, but being Swiss it’s a hard choice